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Power failure hard on the elderly


For most, losing electricity means little more than the inconvenience of missing a favorite TV show or not checking e-mail. But for older adults with chronic medical conditions and limited mobility, a power outage can be a serious threat, unless they've taken steps to prepare.

Connecticut Light & Power Co. spokesman Mitch Gross says individuals should start by notifying their electric company if they depend on medical equipment powered by electricity. Most utilities keep a list of power-dependent customers in case of outages.

"Essential services, such as police, hospitals and fire stations and individuals who are on life-sustaining equipment, are always at the top of our list to have their power restored," says Gross.

Stock up on essentials. Although a majority of Americans think they're prepared for an emergency, an American Red Cross poll showed that not to be the case. For example, while more than half of Americans have a disaster-supplies kit, most are unsure what it should contain.

"There are basic items everyone should have on hand at all times," says Paul Shipman, spokesman for the Connecticut chapter of the Red Cross. "A gallon of water per day per person, flashlights, a battery-operated radio and extra batteries and a supply of nonperishable food."

Keep flashlights by your bed, in the kitchen, and other key places, so you won't risk falling while searching for them in the dark. Consider investing in nightlights that plug into wall outlets and go on whenever power goes out. Cordless phones won't work without electricity, so keep a corded phoned as backup.

Korky Vann writes for The Hartford Courant.

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